Flip the Switch Episode 11: Higher Education Online

John Saunders
By John Saunders

Flip the Switch Episode 11: Higher Education Online

SOPHIA: Today on Flip the Switch. Apple’s investing heavily in their augmented reality headset. Christopher Nolan riffs on Netflix’s business model. EA sports CEO imagines world without a new Madden each year. And we revisit our big-time business guy of the week.

Our main topic revolves around the rapid rise of online education and how it’s threatening the traditional university model. We discuss the growing access to higher education, developing new skills at an affordable price, and how you can utilize these resources.

 

Let’s get into it.

 

00:58 AUSTIN: Welcome to Flip the Switch presented by Power Digital Marketing. We’re in November and everybody’s getting into that Holiday spirit. We’d like to welcome you to our 11th episode and it’s going to be a good one.

 

01:08 PAT: Oh, it’s going to be a great one. I’m doing good, by the way today Austin. Thanks for asking.

 

01:13 AUSTIN: Oh yeah. Totally forgot to ask you guys. How’s everybody doing?

 

01:15 PAT: We’re doing well…

 

01:16 AUSTIN: Yeah. Patrick’s speaking for the crew today.

 

01:18 PAT: As a group, we’re doing well today, Austin. Thanks for asking.

 

01:19 AUSTIN: And I’m happy to have you here. We’ve got everybody back and healthy which is fantastic in itself.

 

01:25 PAT: And we got a great show for you guys today. We’re going to be going through a few business trends. We’re going to be doing a main topic discussion around the rise of online education. And then towards the back-end, we’re going to be naming another big-time business guy of the week. Which we’re super-excited to bring back to you all.

 

01:39 AUSTIN: Yes, we are.

 

01:40 PAT: Cool. So jumping right into things, let’s get into it a little bit.

 

01:44 AUSTIN: First one, we are talking about is one of our favorite companies…Apple is ramping up work on an “augmented reality” headset.

 

01:51 PAT: Yeah, that’s right. So basically Apple is… and this is something that you can read on Bloomberg Technology if you do want to take a look after today’s episode. But it’s seeking a breakthrough product to succeed the iPhone basically. And it could have this augmented reality headset ready as soon as 2019. Or sorry, it’s going to be… the model will be finalized in 2019 and it can ship product as early as 2020. The Apple CEO, Tim Cook, considers AR less isolating than VR and potentially revolutionary. And more revolutionary than the smartphone.

 

02:24 AUSTIN: I’m trying to understand the difference between AR and VR. John, can you shed a little light on that?

 

02:29 JOHN: Yeah. So VR is a virtual world. It’s not the real world. And it’s immersive so it’s all around you and it feels like the real world. But it’s all digitized basically. It doesn’t exist.

 

AR is augmented reality where there’s digital elements that are projected onto the real world. So augmented reality is where these businesses are trying to go because it doesn’t interfere with your actual day-to-day. So you’re seeing a lot of BtoB type stuff. Or just everyday type of things.

 

I think the examples that they used were somebody at a basketball game can get instantaneous stats. Right in front of their eyes. On the court. So it’s like watching a TV game but you’re actually there.

 

I think the other example was a mechanic wearing them and having info pulled up on how to specifically fix something. While they’re working on a car or something. Wearing augmented reality devices…

 

03:27 AUSTIN: Wow. That’s pretty exciting stuff. I’m thinking of all the different ways that this could be used right now. Think about, like, a fastball going at a baseball game… a fastball and then all of a sudden you have the speed coming up.

 

03:40 PAT:As a digital marketer you could be in a meeting and hear a search term being said and you could pull up all the stats about monthly search volume, competitiveness..

 

03:48 AUSTIN: (laughing) Yeah, no more empty spaces in your meetings, right?

 

03:50 PAT: Exactly.

 

03:51 JOHN: Google tried to do it with the Google glass. So they did more of a consumer-based one. But people are now seeing more money in doing more business oriented devices. I think it’s pretty exciting.

 

04:02 PAT: It is super-exciting. I think the biggest question that I’m going to have around this is two-fold. First, what are the business applications going to be? Because Apple has found a way to become pretty widely used set of products. Throughout the business community, whether or not your BtoC or BtoB. We do see a lot of the operating systems for Fortune 500 companies remaining Windows. I believe last time we looked, every single Fortune 500 company had a Windows operating system. Except for one which was Apple.

 

But I think that the second thing that’s going to be most interesting is how this affects them long-term. We talked in the last episode about they hit the 900 billion dollar market cap because of their innovation and their recent technological advancements. Even with something as minor as tweaking the iPhone.

 

This is a fully new piece of technology, and I think that we’re going to see that stock price… obviously this is a few years away…2020. But they could really be approaching that… getting really close to that 1 trillion dollar market cap that a lot of speculators and analysts expect them to…

 

05:00 AUSTIN: It looks like it’s also going to be utilizing Siri, which they already have a pretty technology around for their iPhone and then for their other products as well. I think that what we can expect… when they do eventually roll this out, expect a big grand show that they’ve done.

 

And also very fascinating to see what they do with a completely new product offering. They haven’t had a new product offering since I believe that Apple watch, was their most recent. And then their other products have been your typical with the laptops or MacBooks and then the iPhones…

 

05:27 PAT: I think in my mind, the thing that’s going to need to change the most with this–if they are going to build it using Siri as the AI–is they’re going to need to improve Siri’s functionality. Looking at the different AIs that are on the market nowadays, Siri has to be the least sophisticated out of the bunch. So if they’re going to put this much money, research and time behind developing this ROS–which is Reality Operating System, is what they’re calling it. That’s what it’s going to run on as opposed to IOS. They’re really going to need to consider the consumer experience with respect to Siri and automating that aspect of the product.

 

05:57 AUSTIN: Another thing that they’re going to need to be doing is what they do with all their products. Integrating the brand into society. So as they’ve done with the iPhone, they’ve made the iPhone and integral part of every day. The MacBook is the coolest laptop that you can own and you have to have it. So they’re going to have to do that with VR and how they do that usually is through their product offering and then just the way it looks. So, you know, it’s sleek, it’s cool. You can carry it around and enjoy it.

 

So that’s going to be difficult with augmented reality, because it’s a completely new vertical than having a tangible phone in front of you. So we’ll definitely be keeping you up to date with that. And expect that around 2020.

 

06:33 PAT: Cool.

 

Second piece of news that we’re going to be jumping into today. Famous director, Christopher Nolan, rips Netflix’s business model. That immediately caught my attention. This is an article we’re reading off of Quartz and that we’re recapping. But basically what Christopher Nolan’s contention is with Netflix’s business model is that it’s taking an antiquated version of business–that traditionally wasn’t known as doing well–and framing it as innovation. What he means by that is he’s a massive cinema advocate. He believes that you can appreciate film and art the most in a movie theater. And that movies that in the 1990s that were super-low budget and weren’t going to get enough universal traction to go into movie theaters went straight to consumers, right?

 

07:12 AUSTIN: They were scoffed at.

 

07:13 PAT: Right. Exactly. They were scoffed at and sent straight to consumers on VHS. And now Netflix is framing up the fact that they’re creating these Netflix movies that are going direct to consumers as innovative, right?

 

07:23 AUSTIN: And the thing that’s frustrating from Nolan’s perspective is they’re good.

 

07:28 PAT: They’re good. They’re getting…

 

07:30 AUSTIN: So they’re cutting into his whole, entire perspective on a movie that skips the theaters.

 

07:35 PAT: Yeah, exactly. He was quoted as saying, “Every other industry whether it’s the car industry or whatever, controls when a product is launched. The idea that the film business should forget that and just throw everything together at the same time makes no sense. It’s not good business, and people will realize that eventually.”

 

07:51 AUSTIN: I think we disagree with his statement on that not being good business. Cause you’re just eliminating a middle-man. If you’re the production company which Netflix has become, they’ve taken that vertical and then they’ve eliminated an entire cost. Which is sending that movie out to the consumer in the movie theater.

 

They’re bringing it straight to the consumer on the product they already have. Under the service they already offer. And it’s a subscription-based model, so they’re going to get the same price for that show regardless.

 

08:16 PAT: Yeah, I agree. I think that it’s… and the stock price shows the fact that people disagree with Nolan’s opinion of that. Netflix has been steadily on the rise over the last year. We saw a little bit of a dip in the market today, but as of yesterday it was up over $200 a share. Which is higher than a lot of really reputable technology companies out there. It’s higher than Apple. Again, that’s because Apple has split their stocks, like, 20 times.

 

08:39 AUSTIN: Yes. Good to think about.

 

08:40 PAT: But still it’s noteworthy. And I think another thing to think about is Netflix’s consumers, their consumer base is continually growing. They added 5.9 million subscribers over the course of the last year. 448 thousand of those 5.9 million… so the vast minority were from other countries. International. So their reach is widespread. A lot of people get behind the business model. And I think the fact that Nolan is coming out and kind of discounting that proves that Netflix’s model has validity. And is a disruptor in the marketplace.

 

09:12 AUSTIN: Yup. And every time a company comes in and starts disrupting the big players, the social norm for them, there’s obviously going to be an up cry, because they want to hold on to that. It’s a sense of pride for Nolan have one of his feature films go to theater. And it’s been a mainstay of American society… just as a human. Part of society to go to the theaters and see a movie. We’re seeing that go out the door. And just also, at the very end, to put a little context into this… Nolan did say that he was sorry to the CEO of Netflix. Because it was taken a little bit out of context. And he said, “I was undiplomatic in the way I expressed it…”

 

09:47 PAT: Fake apology. It’s a non-apologetic apology.

 

09:51 AUSTIN: Yeah, because everyone’s ripping him because he said that they had a bad business. “I wasn’t giving any context to the frankly revolutionary nature of what Netflix has done.” That is the truth.

 

10:01 PAT: That is absolutely true. And it’s been shown in the stock market, the consumer base and in the level of production they’re being able to put out. They have people like Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese, in their movies nowadays. Again, hot-take from Christopher Nolan. Do not think that the vast majority of people agree with him on this. I know that I don’t.

 

10:17 AUSTIN: He’ll be directing a Netflix movie soon enough.

 

10:19 PAT: All right, moving onto our last piece of news over here.

 

EA Sports CEO is now imagining a year without a new Madden game. That’s heartbreaking to see. So basically, Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wilson, said there might come soon a time when the video game publisher EA Sports doesn’t release an annual version of hits like FIFA, Madden and some of their most well respected and widely sold games.

 

And the reason for that? Is that he says, “We live in a world where it’s getting easier and easier to move that code around. Where we might not need to do an annual release.” They can literally just start to do in-game updates basically…

 

10:55 AUSTIN: Yeah. So that’s kind of already happening. We’re seeing with live updates, when you hook up… if you have a PS4 or Xbox One, you can hook up to their servers and then they’ll update the games. Let’s say there’s new players. There’s a trade on an NFL team. The trade will actually happen and it’ll update the game for you.

 

They’re taking that one step further and saying, “We’ll just update the entire game every year.” Where it’ll be a subscription based model just like Netflix.

 

11:17 PAT: Yeah, exactly. And they tested that ever since 2014. They set up Madden to be a mobile game on $5 a month subscription service to see if that model would have any validity. And what they’re seeing is their MRR was good. EA Sports has a really respected, I think, aura about it… Everybody knows that they’re the real deal…

 

11:35 AUSTIN: They’re the biggest brand in video games.

 

11:37 PAT: They’re the real deal when it comes to sports games especially. And it’s been really interesting to see the fact that they’re getting in on this subscription model that we’ve seen a lot of other–formerly traditional industries–getting into. WE talked about how the medical industry is getting into some subscription consulting-based companies.

 

We saw that with Porsche rolling out a subscription-based model for Porsches.

 

12:01 AUSTIN: The dawn of Uber…

 

12:02 PAT: Exactly. So I think that this is just another disruption in a marketplace. And I’m really interested to see how it all pans out.

 

12:07 JOHN: I think they also… the updates from year-to-year now aren’t as big as what they used to be. From like, 2005 Madden to 2006. Going from a PS2 to a PS3 or something like that.

 

12:20 PAT: Yeah, it looked like going from stick figures to 3D…

 

12:23 JOHN: Yeah, right. They’re like reaching that end limit of what they can actually do. And any updates that they want to roll out, they can easily roll out instantaneously. And I think it will be better for consumers too. Because they don’t have to wait around to get some new version of the game.

 

12:35 JOE: Well even now, on the new consoles you don’t even have to have a physical “game” to buy it. You can just download it straight from their servers. So if they’re able to do that then they should easily be able to update them and push them. And make those graphic updates even if they need to through their own servers or their own platforms.

 

12:49 AUSTIN: Yeah, that’s actually true. Every major console right now does offer it. You have the ability to buy the game, but they don’t do the subscription where you pay and every year it updates and then sends you the new version. So that’s the big difference here, that they’re going to try to roll out as time goes on. The industry in itself–if we’re looking at gaming in total–has continued to grow. And mobile’s been a huge push of that. So we’re looking at year-over-year–108 billion in 2017. Projected 115 billion projected in 2018. A lot of that is because of the growth of mobile. That’s going to be up to 35% of gaming.

 

But then we’re seeing consoles are staying steady. So about 30% of gaming is done on consoles and that’s been pretty much since the dawn of video game consoles in itself. And that’s going to table and hold strong. So let’s look for this industry to continue to generate revenue in new ways.

 

13:42 PAT: I agree. And just on that note, one thing that I noticed is really a big deal for the video game industry, and has a huge potential for further revenue moving forward. Actually ties back to the augmented reality piece that we were talking about before.

 

Augmented Reality could literally change the game if you know what I mean.

 

13:57 AUSTIN: That was good. That was good.

 

13:57 PAT: Thank you. It’s supposed to be a joke, but you can basically take augmented reality… if you’re playing FIFA… augmented reality could allow you to be Cristiano Ronaldo. Kicking the ball around out in your backyard.

 

 

So there’s a lot of opportunity for… as the code gets easier to move around like the CEO was saying here… it’s going to be a lot easier for users to identify with the game on a real level. And I think that just opens the door, since it’s so integrated with new pieces of technology that are coming out. Just opening the door for future revenue in the years to come.

 

I don’t see that growth stopping. Especially as mobile use gets higher, I see it really becoming more accentuated.

 

14:36 AUSTIN: Our main topic today is about online education and how it’s threatening the traditional university model. What I mean by this is people are deciding to not go to college, private universities or public universities and instead are taking classes online.

 

14:48 PAT: Yeah. And that’s something that… it’s an industry that’s been emerging in a major way. Especially over the course of the last few years. We have some figures that we’re going to share with you guys and kind of talk about a little bit here. But I think the biggest takeaway is just that with the prevalence of not only smart devices and tablets. And computer usage and internet usage going up, people are really starting to leverage the Internet as a full-fledged resource to better every aspect of their life.

 

15:12 AUSTIN: Yeah, here’s a quote that I pulled from a Fast Company article… “Higher education is an enormous business in the United States. We spend approximately 400 billion dollars annually on tuition to universities.” So that’s the parents, of course, that are paying for their kids, or maybe kids that are taking out loans. That is a significant amount of money that’s going towards these schools that are reaping the benefit.

 

So I think from a consumer standpoint, we’ve become frustrated with that. And, you want to become intelligent, you want to succeed in life… but this burden, this debt that it’s taking on is quite frustrating as prices inflate and life itself becomes more expensive.

 

15:49 PAT: I agree. And something that really stood out to me from that quote that you were reading from is that that figure exceeds the yearly revenues of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter combined. So that’s a huge, huge number. And I think that what people are finding… and a lot of people in our generation are getting a little bit frustrated with the traditional higher education experience. Because they get a degree that they paid probably $40,000 for on average. A lot of us had to pay a little bit more than that. Probably ends up being closer to almost 80 grand for 4 years.

 

Even for a state school, it’s really expensive. And it doesn’t set you apart as much in the job market as it used to. Even though you’re study can be more specialized and niche… the fact of the matter is that more people are graduating from college today than ever before in history.

 

16:37 AUSTIN: Unless you’re getting a degree like computer science or maybe a nursing degree, where they’re getting pulled directly from school. Something like a business student can be a little bit more difficult. I know in the past we’ve talked about how tech companies have created sales positions, but that’s just one specific example. There’s still tons of kids out there… they get this degree from this school and it doesn’t really mean that much.

 

17:00 PAT: Yeah, I know. And it’s definitely a point of frustration. But what we’re seeing especially with those kind of widely shared degrees like business, is that people need to take extra measures and refine their skill sets to stand out in the crowd.

 

And that has been where online education has excelled. There’s the opportunities like there have never been before for a lot of students like me. You can enroll in a free course from Harvard, Stanford or MIT if you want to. It’s like an extension school, but you’re essentially getting a Harvard level education online. Just because you were willing to take the time, to go out and do that.

 

17:37 AUSTIN: Yeah, the cool thing is that these schools have noticed that frustration in kids. And then also the rise in cost to go to their school. They’ve seen probably attendance dropping and that’s what’s led them to help become a part of this. Something like online… let’s see… OEDB.org… openeducationdatabase.org is this website where every class is free and there’s 10,000 classes from different universities that are offered on there. So we’re talking just the top ones. You said Harvard, MIT, schools like that are offering their courses on this website for free because they understand that people still need to be educated even though they’re not going to these higher education courses at their schools.

 

18:14 PAT: Yeah, and this higher education case study… basically use case scenario that we’re talking about right now is a microcosm of a bigger trend that’s happening within the world of education. And it’s just that education has traditionally been a very book heavy, paper-heavy setting that you’re learning in. I remember chalk boards and then dry-erase boards when we were going through elementary and junior high. And now we’re seeing that kids are getting tablets and smartphones and laptops for their in-school learning. Even at the elementary school level.

 

So what that kind of tells me is that the higher education piece that we’re talking about is a microcosm of a much more widely spread trend. That is starting to become more prevalent in the world of education as a whole. All the way down to the K through 6 level.

 

19:02 AUSTIN: Yeah, the great thing is here to see is though the numbers may be down of people going to universities, they still want to learn. And that’s what people are utilizing by using something like OEDB… that you can still take classes even though maybe you have to go straight into a job at a high school. Or get straight into your trade courses. You can still continue to grow in the world of education because there’s something we do know. Education leads to success or more opportunity. So you still want that in your life. And one article I’m seeing right here… U.S. News… they had the four reasons online education works for working adults.

 

Course flexibility. Just like you were saying. You could do it any time of day. Instead of maybe having to go maybe after your job or you know, if you have kids its nearly impossible. That’s flexible.

 

Another thing. Learning new skills and improving existing ones. That’s the one we were just talking about. People want to continue to get better at what they’re doing so that they can have a success

 

And another one right after that is new career opportunities.

 

20:00 PAT: Yeah, I just wanted to ask a question in terms of… I get that for working adults who are just trying to further their skill set. But do you think there’s a difference between somebody who is trying to get a job with their degree? And how that looks on a resume, with these different online sources rather than going to an actual university? With an increase in these online degrees do you think that at some point those are going to be more accepted on resumes?

 

20:26 AUSTIN: So right off the bat, I think there has always been an unfair stigma around additional, extension style education. I think that people take a look at it, and they’ll say, “Oh, he learned this specific thing.” He took a project management course at UCSD extension, let’s say. And for a long time it was almost looked down upon.

 

But I think that the bigger takeaway that employers are starting to become more aware of in today’s day and age is that the type of person that goes out and does that as extra… as not a bare minimum to get their entry-level job necessarily, to excel in their career. It doesn’t matter what they learned, the fact of the matter is that they’re the type of person that would do that. They’re the type of person that would go seek out additional education because they’re rational and level-headed enough to know that it can only benefit them to do so.

 

And for me, just taking a look at free courses on OEDB, it’s free, it’s just a time-cost. And if it comes down to time then a lot of people are willing to make that sacrifice.

 

21:32 JOHN: Yeah, I think with courses that we take here, I know we use Udemy a lot and that’s more furthering skill set and I totally understand that. I just was wondering, you know, if in those facts and the data that we have behind the popularity behind that if that’s going to start changing on resumes, so…

Digital_Traditional PR

21:49 JOE: I think that… that’s not going to change really at all because a lot of the schools that… or I guess all the schools that you’re getting your degree from all have to be accredited universities. And I think that’s something employers look for. Unless you are someone that has developed this crazy skill set such as coding or web development. And you were able to prove that you have all these projects under your belt. Then you might not be… or you are too valuable to pass up on. In giving that opportunity. And you can kind of look that to the side.

 

But at the same time, getting a degree from an accredited university is a big thing. And I think a lot of these online courses… not necessarily Udemy or Lynda, but a lot of online universities or people that take online courses. They’re all looking to become accredited institutions. And I think I could see that shift going away from way less in-person class to more so doing it on your own time, like you were saying before.

 

22:43 PAT: And that begs the question for me, especially since we’re starting to see some prevalence with Internet usage as a primary source of education in some of the more formative grades, like K through 6 like I was mentioning. One case study example that gets called out in The New York Times is some of the Chicago public schools–which is the 3rd largest school district in the United States. That has about 380,000 students. They’re shifting basically they’re learning to online but in the classroom… they call it the “Googlification” of the classroom, which I think is a really interesting word that they definitely made up.

 

But I think it begs the question for me, at what point… how detrimental do you think that is in terms of learning to interact with other people? Do you think the fact that Internet taking the primary role as the teacher in the world of education and formative years is going to inhibit social ability in some of the kids that are K through 6? What are your guys’ thoughts on that? Because this is the first time that this will become a very, very common thing for kids as young as 7 years-old.

 

23:43 AUSTIN: I think it’s very early to tell. We’re going to find out pretty soon though. Because we’re finally seeing a generation that grew up with tablets. And that’s… they’re now almost into high school. Where you saw… they grew up with an iPhone in front of them, or a tablet in front of them. So pretty soon we’re going to see the effects on that socially.

 

Do I think that it’ll affect them? Yes and no. If they have a situation where… it’s almost like you get a group of kids together that are similar. And then they’re learning on these devices. They could almost propel each other to do better. Then it’s going to be good.

 

If, yeah, you’re just at home and you’re just learning everything that you would learn in elementary school with a group of people, but you’re just by yourself? Yes. Isolation will always affect how humans interact socially and we definitely don’t want to see that trend continue.

 

24:27 JOE: I think even thinking further down the road… tying it back to the beginning of this episode with augmented reality and virtual reality. Once all of these things become a lot more accessible on the Internet. And virtual reality is a thing. You might be able to put on a headset and enter a classroom that you paid for at an accredited university that could be a hundred miles away…

 

24:46 PAT: You’re blowing my mind, Joe.

 

24:47 JOHN: It’s like in “Ready Player One”…

 

24:49 JOE: Exactly.

 

24:51 PAT: What is that?

 

24:51 JOE: It’s a great book. You should read it.

 

24:52 JOHN: I don’t want to go on a tangent, but it’s a book about how the normal world is, like, not so great. And so they all join these classrooms that are basically virtual reality…

 

25:01 JOE: So essentially you wouldn’t have to travel. Say you got accepted to NYU or somewhere across the country. You could just put on a headset, be in your classroom across the country, and still get the full experience.

 

25:09 AUSTIN: What if everyone… this was mandated by the world… everyone took a test and then based on that test and where you’re lined up, you’re grouped with that people and then the augmented reality was the classroom. And it was all the same type of people learning that skill set. And, you know, it’d be basically personalized learning but worldwide through augmented reality.

 

25:28 PAT: That’s like, “Brave New World” stuff there.

 

25:30 AUSTIN: Yeah, that might be “1984”ish.

 

25:31 JOHN: You should get into writing.

 

25:35 JOE: But I think too, also, it will eliminate the need to take a lot of these classes or spend a bunch of money on these things that you might not have any interest in, or it’s not going to help you at all down the road.

 

And whereas there’s a bunch of accredited universities or sources of information for you to learn online… you could be picking off all those classes through an online course or through a virtual reality course and get more bang for your buck for the types of classes you’re trying to take or the stuff you’re trying to learn.

 

26:00 JOHN: Yeah, and I think definitely the variety of what you can choose from and centralizing what you’re trying to do, you get smarter at a specific thing, rather than your degree being this big, broad thing that everybody does.

 

Going into another piece of technology, what if they incorporated AI into all this stuff to start learning about what you’re smarter at and then it just centralizes what you’re learning.

 

26:21 PAT: It customizes your curriculum based on… that’s pretty interesting.

 

26:26 JOE: It’s almost like the university would become a trade school. Or everything would be one big trade school, because you’re just learning specialized skills.

 

26:33 PAT: Well that’s what the world of education is starting to turn to. Looking at some of these Udemy numbers from their 2016 wrap-up. They said that course consumption… the amount of hours spent learning courses in 2016… And these numbers have all gone up this year by the way… was the equivalent of 540,282 days of learning. 24 hour days of learning. In overall course consumption.

 

The number of courses that were published in 2016 were 15,000 new courses. And the number of enrollments in 2016 was 27,046,643 students. Which was a 30% increase from the year before.

 

27:06 AUSTIN: You want to know why? It’s cause you can buy one of those courses for 10 bucks.

 

27:10 PAT: You can by a course for 10 dollars that is a MBA level course. The fastest growing categories… this is a big enough sample size, we can use it as a little bit of an educational index… were test preparation, so MCAT, SAT, GRE what have you. Test preparation courses. IT and software. Languages. Photography. And Development/Coding. Parentheses John Saunders.

 

27:34 AUSTIN: Yeah, Joe was the one who turned us on to this originally. I think a lot of us have used it, but I did one for WordPress, which is the CMS we’ve talked about. And it was start-to-finish. This person is professional. The one who taught me. And they literally taught me how to set up a unique server, a local server so I can build a website and then push it live.

 

27:50 PAT: Yeah, and kind of going back to the question that spurred a lot of this conversation… how much is this affecting people’s ability to interact with other people. I think the fact that languages is one of the fastest growing categories in terms of enrollments is pretty telling. It may actually be a catalyst for better connection among people.

 

28:08 AUSTIN: Yeah, because, you know, you gotta wonder why people want to learn other languages. Well they have to be interacting with the people that speak that language.

 

28:15 PAT: Right, exactly. They care about interacting with these other people and the world on a level that they hadn’t before. Which is a widely shared trend with the prevalence of the Internet now. It connects every single person in the world in one way or another. And people are seeking out additional ways to identify with other…

 

28:29 AUSTIN: We might have to do a whole episode on international travel as well, because we’ve seen prices go down on international flights over the last couple of years. Making it more accessible for people to travel.

 

28:37 JOHN: Yeah, I mean…

 

28:38 AUSTIN: Sorry, that was a tangent…

 

28:39 JOHN: No, I mean, I was just going to say… its funny how many different uses you can get out of something like Udemy. We use it from the beginning tier of what people are trying to learn. So learning WordPress from scratch. And then I’ve taken courses that are just simply to learn a little bit more about something that I’m actually well-versed in.

 

So going back to the variety and what you can learn. And what you can improve on with these things… It’s way more than me stepping into a standard classroom at a university and learning just the general depth of what they give you.

 

29:13 JOE: And I don’t think these are going to be an end-all, be-all. And this is going to solve your problems and you’re going to become a genius from taking these courses. But I do think, at some point, they will become that. And you will be able to lean on those and learn legitimate skills through these online courses.

 

Which you still already can, but I think it’s just kind of like the tip of the iceberg at this point. They’re just going to only get better.

 

29:35 PAT: Yeah, exactly. With so much… cause every aspect of what people are doing within these courses is trackable and measurable. So they can see where drop-off points are in these courses. What aren’t working for people. What are working for people. Use that immediate data feedback to consistently optimize the courses to get better. So things are only going to get better from here.

 

My question for you guys as we kind of wrap this up here, is then what does all of that mean? What do you think the biggest benefit people get out of these courses is? Is it a time-saver? Is it because they get to learn something niche?

 

Or is it because it allows them to explore their curiosities?

 

30:10 AUSTIN: Yeah I think the biggest thing from a very high-level is the education of a population. So the fact that learning something so well done… a course that’s so well done… that’s Harvard… now anybody has access to that. All over the world. That means that our society can benefit from it as a whole. So individuals are able to learn something a lot easier and gone are the days where you say, “Oh, I can’t go to Harvard because 1) I don’t have the grades, and 2) I don’t have the money.”

 

You can Harvard at your front door… in your computer for free now. And that’s the wonderful thing I think about that.

 

30:42 PAT: In my opinion, I think that the biggest selling point is actually the time-saver. So I think that it’s 2-fold, because people, again, don’t want to have to a lot of the application work. The test taking work to get into some of these graduate programs where they’d learn these niches.

 

And also they’re allowed to take these courses on their own time. So the fact that there aren’t barriers to entry paired with the fact that it’s super-convenient to me is the biggest USP in these courses. And why this industry is absolutely blowing up with no end in sight.

 

31:07 JOHN: Niches get Riches.

 

31:08 PAT: (laughing) Niches get Riches. That’s pretty good. WE could put that in the tagline for the episode.

 

31:13 AUSTIN: That was really good…

 

So just to recap, let’s go pros and cons of online education and its growth. Con–that would be the social interaction. We’re seeing that die a little bit. I mean, that’s what happens when people become personalized.

 

And then… I can’t think of another Con besides that.

 

31:32 PAT: Realistically I think one con might just be that these are so widely accessible that employers will start seeing these really commonly shared across applicants. So then the question will become, what’s the next thing that can separate you from you the rest of the applicant pool?

 

31:43 AUSTIN: Good point.

 

31:44 JOE: I think overall legitimacy could be an issue as well. I mean, as they’re kind of working out the kinks and obviously it’s going to happen a lot faster than we might expect. But I think right now you couldn’t just lean on that.

 

31:55 AUSTIN: Yup. Legitimacy, Social interaction, and then separating yourself from the pack as it becomes more accessible.

 

ON the Pro side of things–the one that we talked about. Tangibility of learning. So the ability for a population to have access to great education all the time.

 

32:11 PAT: Mm-hmm. It is practical. It is timely in the sense that it is on your time. You can decide when you do and don’t want to go.

 

And I think that the 3rd big selling point is that there’s low barriers to entry. And it’s universally accessible.

 

And also 4th… if we’re going to keep going here…

 

32:28 JOHN: Just keep going, dude…

 

32:28 PAT: Not that I have a bias.

 

No, realistically, I think that the 4th one is that it allows you to explore aspects of your curiosities and your skill sets that you want to refine in ways that traditional education hadn’t allowed you to previously and that no solution had previously been in place for.

 

32:41 AUSTIN: Yeah, so if you have a chance to check out Udemy. That’s udemy.com. Great, cheap courses and you can learn a lot from them.

 

Thanks for tuning into this one. This is a really great conversation. Any questions you guys have or if you’ve taken a course online, let’s hear your thoughts. Hit us up on our Twitter and our Facebook @flipswitchcast. And that’s also Instagram as well.

 

33:02 PAT: All right guys, we’re moving into our final segment here. This is one that we had a lot of fun with the last time we did it. When we talked about Jamie Dimon. This is our big time business guy of the week. Again, this is an entrepreneur, business leader, or innovator in their industry that is making waves.

 

Spoiler alert–if you guys thought we were get through an entire episode without talking about Bitcoin, you’re dead wrong…

 

33:21 AUSTIN: (laughing) You’re wrong.

 

33:23 PAT: Because our big-time business guy of the week is Bram Cohen.

 

33:28 AUSTIN: Bram Cohen. And everybody’s going, “Who the hell is Bram Cohen?”

 

33:33 JOE: (laughing) Is everybody doing that?

 

33:34 AUSTIN: Yeah, so the thing that we really like about this guy is Bram Cohen is a bit of a revolutionary in the crypto world. He created a file transfer protocol called BitTorrent. Which is Peer-to-peer utilization… that utilizes empty space so that people can bank on each other and so he’s taken that concept and applied that to a new form of crypto-currency that’s going to be eco-friendly. What we mean by that is that electricity burns a lot when you are doing a Bitcoin transaction. So when Bitcoin is created, a lot of electricity is used.

 

He’s figured out a way to make it so that doesn’t happen.

 

34:06 PAT: Yeah, and the reason that we wanted to pick Bram Cohen as our big-time business guy of the week this week is because he’s in an industry that is fairly brand-new. It’s been emerging over the course of the last four years probably, maybe five and really predominantly in the second half of this year.

 

And he’s already taking a new angle that has proven to have success in other industries… being the eco-friendly model. And to me, the fact that he’s so innovative with a brand-new concept means that a) there’s so much room for innovation in this industry moving forward. We’re going to get to see so many technological advances and scientific advances with respect to crypto-currency. Whose technology can be transferred over to other aspects and other facets of work.

 

And second-of-all, that he keeps in mind the priorities of the majority of the public. A lot of people nowadays are eco-friendly. They care more about their carbon-footprint than they do production and how much they produce. And so, I think that he’s really got a unique take and he has a unique niche within the industry.

 

35:09 AUSTIN: I think you nailed it there when you said that this concept… that what he created could translate into other industries. So energy-saving is huge. And if he’s come up with a concept where he’s being able to cut down on energy usage for something… that could probably be translated and messed around with a little bit to be into another thing.

 

So I know something like what Elon Musk is doing is he’s trying to make every home a little bit more eco-friendly. So there might be some of that concept in itself.

 

So we definitely are interested to see what he’s going to be able to do with this and how it all works. And then also… on the side of it is revenue generating. So he’ll have coins that are trading called Chia on the Chia Network. So just like Bitcoin has tokens, the Chia Network will also have tokens. Like the other ones as well, block-chain’s the technology here. It doesn’t burn electricity. It’s peer-to-peer and it’s decentralized.

 

36:01 PAT: So big takeaway here… hats off to you Mr. Bram Cohen. You’re our big-time business guy of the week.

 

36:06 JOHN: (background) Big-time business guy!

 

36:06 PAT: (laughing) Not a sound-bite. That was actually John signing us off.

 

That just about wraps everything up for this episode of Flip the Switch. This has been episode 11. Thank you guys so much for tuning in. We’ll be posting new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday. If you ever have questions for us, requests for things that we can talk about, or any feedback at all… always hit us up on our social media platforms. @flipswitchcast for both Instagram and Twitter. Again that is @flipswitchcast for both.

 

I’m Pat Kriedler, this has been Austin Mahaffey, John Saunders and Joe Hollerup signing off.

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John is the Director of Web Development at Power Digital and thrives on the balance between creative and strategy. Using his experience in CRO, John approaches website builds with the user in mind, combining psychological and technical aspects of design.